James S. Gillespie was born on September 4, 1825 in Argyle, Washington County, New York.
James’ father was born in New York and his mother in Scotland.
James married New York native Caroline F. Scranton (b. 1833), on the evening of January 12, 1857, in Romeo, Macomb County, Michigan, and they had at least five children: James R. (b. 1857), Nellie (b. 1860), Jennie (b. 1861), Cornelius (b. 1866) and Grace (b. 1869). (Caroline was living in Washington, Macomb County in 1850.)
By 1860 James was working as a register’s clerk and living with his wife and children in Grand Rapids’ 3rd Ward.
James stood 5’6,” with blue eyes, auburn hair and a light complexion and was 35 years old and probably living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted as a wagoner in Company A on May 13, 1861. James was discharged on account of chronic diarrhea and consumption on June 20, 1862, at Savage Station, Virginia.
After he was discharged from the army James returned to Grand Rapids where, on December 10, 1862, he applied for and received a pension (no. 13995).
James subsequently reentered the service as Private in Company H, 27th Michigan infantry on March 10, 1863, for 3 years, and was mustered on April 10 at Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County, where the regiment was organized. The regiment left Michigan for Kentucky on April 12 and participated in the siege and capture of Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi during the summer and the Knoxville campaign in November-December.
James was detached to Brigade headquarters from November 1, 1863, through June of 1864 -- the regiment had been transferred to the Army of the Potomac in April of 1864 -- and again from March of 1865 through May. He was mustered out with the regiment on July 26, 1865, at Delaney House, DC.
After the war James returned to Michigan. He was apparently living in Corunna, Shiawassee County in 1867 and in 1870 he was working as a copying clerk and living with his wife and children in the village of Mt. Clemens, Macomb County.
By 1877 he was living in Caro, Tuscola County. In 1880 he was working as a real estate agent and living with his wife and children in Caro, Tuscola County. In 1883 he was living in Caro drawing $8.00 per month for chronic diarrhea (pension no. 13,995, dated March of 1879), drawing $30 by 1912. He was still living in Caro in 1890 and 1894 and around 1900. By 1910 he was living on Anderson with his wife in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington. In 1911, 1912, and 1913 he and Carline were living at 1532 N. Anderson Street in Tacoma, Washington.
James was a member of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry Association.
James died on April 8, 1913, in Tacoma and is presumably buried there.
On April 17, 1913 Caroline applied for and received a pension (no. 759529).